John hadn’t got out of the boat; he thought he ought to change his clothes, he said; and when Charley, truly astonished, proffered his entire wardrobe and reminded him of lunch, it was thank you very much, but if he could be put ashore—I looked for Hortense, to see what she would do, but Hortense, had gone below with Kitty to change her clothes, and the genuinely hearty protestations from all the rest brought merely pleasantly firm politeness from John, as he put on again the coat he had flung off on jumping. At least he would take a drink, urged Charley. Yes, thank you, he would; and he chose brandy-and-soda, of which he poured himself a remarkably stiff one. Charley and I poured ourselves milder ones, for the sake of company.
“Here’s how,” said Charley to John.
“Yes, here’s how,” I added more emphatically.
John looked at Charley with a somewhat extraordinary smile. “Here’s unquestionably how!” he exclaimed.
We had a gay lunch; I should have supposed there was plenty of room in the Hermana’s refrigerator; nor did the absence of Hortense and John, the cause of our jubilation, at all interfere with the jubilation itself; by the time the launch was ready to put me ashore, Gazza had sung several miles of “good music” and double that quantity of “razzla-dazzla,” and General Rieppe was crying copiously, and assuring everybody that God was very good to him. But Kitty had told us all that she intended Hortense to remain quiet in her cabin; and she kept her word.
Quite suddenly, as the launch was speeding me toward Kings Port, I exclaimed aloud: “The cake!”
And, I thought, the cake was now settled forever.
XXII: Behind the Times
It was my lot to attend but one of the weddings which Hortense precipitated (or at least determined) by her plunge into the water; and, truth to say, the honor of my presence at the other was not requested; therefore I am unable to describe the nuptials of Hortense and Charley. But the papers were full of them; what the female guests wore, what the male guests were worth, and what both ate and drank, were set forth in many columns of printed matter; and if you did not happen to see this, just read the account of the next wedding that occurs among the New York yellow rich, and you will know how Charley and Hortense were married; for it’s always the same thing. The point of mark in this particular ceremony of union lay in Charley’s speech; Charley found a happy thought at the breakfast. The bridal party (so the papers had it) sat on a dais, and was composed exclusively of Oil, Sugar, Beef, Steel, and Union Pacific; merely at this one table five hundred million dollars were sitting (so the papers computed), and it helped the bridegroom to his idea, when, by the importunate vociferations of the company, he was forced to get on his unwilling legs.
“Poets and people of that sort say” (Charley concluded, after thanking them) “that happiness cannot be bought with money. Well, I guess a poet never does learn how to make a dollar do a dollar’s work. But I am no poet; and I have learned it is as well to have a few dollars around. And I guess that my friends and I, right here at this table, could organize a corner in happiness any day we chose. And if we do, we will let you all in on it.”